If you have reached the point in your writing life that you feel your work is solid, compelling, polished and has the potential to appeal to a broad readership, then you will need an agent to represent you if your goal is major trade publication. Given the changes in the publishing landscape over the last decade, it has become very difficult, if not impossible at some publishing houses, for an unrepresented author to directly submit a manuscript. Having a relationship with a good agent when you are ready to make that final push towards publication can be an invaluable asset.
An agent will help you evaluate the market for your book as well as work with you on revising and polishing your manuscript or proposal in order to give it its best chance for a sale. An agent will devise the strategy for your manuscript submission such as, which publishing houses, which editors, and how many editors should be targeted at a time. This strategy may be based on a number of factors including the general market landscape, recent market sales and personal relationships with particular industry contacts. An agent will help you evaluate any offer you receive, make counter offers, review your contracts and negotiate any desired changes. Once a contract is signed, your agent will serve, if desired, as a resource to help you fulfill the terms of your contract whether you need advice on drafts or help sticking to your deadlines. An agent serves as your advocate with the editor and publisher and is the person who is able to get in the ring and fight for what you need as an author. The author is the person who determines the exact nature of the author-agent relationship. Whether you want a lot of input and advice, support and encouragement, or just assistance with the technical aspects of publication, you get to set the tone of the relationship. In general, authors make more money and get better contract terms than authors who do not have them.
An agent should never charge a “reading fee.” A reputable agent will read your work and either express an interest or pass on it just like a publisher would. Steer clear of any agents who do not follow this guideline. Agents also should not charge you until they make a sale for you and you make money. An agent gets paid for his or her services when you publish, not before. Additionally, an agent should never be financially associated with any publisher or publishing house. This would constitute a major conflict of interest and keep you from getting to take advantage of every opportunity.
The most important thing is to find someone who has genuine interest in you and your manuscript as well as the ability to give you the help you need and want. Since you will likely be working with this person extensively, it is critical that they understand your voice and your vision. You will be relying on your agent to sell your work, so it is important that you feel a personal and professional connection with them. Agents are not one-size fits all and an agent that one person loves may be completely wrong for another.
Most reputable agents take a 15% commission on the revenue of your book, which includes, advances, royalties, subsidiary rights etc. You may also be expected to reimburse the direct expenses the agent incurs on your behalf (photocopying of proposals and manuscripts, shipping/postage etc.). For foreign-rights sales, the agent will generally take a larger commission as those sales typically involve subagents who also take a commission. Most agents will require you to sign some type of agency agreement that states that they are your official representative. It may be open-ended or for a specific period of time, such as 1 or 2 years and it should offer an out-clause should one or both of you find the relationship unsatisfactory. An agent will continue to receive a commission from the books he or she has sold for you even if you move on to another agent for subsequent book deals.
A good agent can provide their clients with excellent representation from anywhere in the country. As long as the agent is in frequent contact with editors in New York and elsewhere, both by phone and personal visits, it does not matter where the agent is located.
Please see our submission guidelines.
Absolutely! We have a sold a great number of first novels.
For emailed queries, 2-4 weeks. For requested partials and full manuscripts 6-8 weeks. Response time can vary according to season (conference season!) and the amount of client work each agent has to attend to. Client work is always given priority over reviewing submissions.
Our preference is that you submit one project at a time. If you do write in multiple genres, you may briefly mention it in your query if you would like.
Not at the present time.
Laura Bradford is a member of AAR, RWA, SCBWI.
Natalie Fischer is a member of SCBWI.
We really don’t have any specific requirements for synopses (length or format). It is merely a tool we use so we know what happens in the rest of your ms after the sample/partial you have submitted ends. We certainly do not expect you to write a special synopsis just for us; whatever you have on hand will be fine. All synopses should include all pertinent information about the book, including the ending. Usually a 2-5 page treatment can effectively do the job.
We get this question a lot. Every time we do a Twitter/Blog chat, or a Q&A at a conference, someone will ask a question about font, margins, spacing. Here is our answer: Just make your ms legible. If that is too vague, here is what we consider legible…
- 12 point font
- A standard ms font: Times New Roman or Courier New (We actually prefer Times New Roman because we think Courier New is rather ugly). And while we are talking about fonts since a lot of authors really get concerned about this, we aren’t really going to toss out your ms if you decided to use Ariel or Helvetica instead Times New Roman. And we do not have any official opinion about serifs. Aren’t you glad you asked?
- Standard 1 inch margins will be fine
- Double spacing
On the question of page format, we really just want to discourage you from submitting single spaced, 6 pt ms in a script font. Have mercy on our eyeballs.
Yes, if you have a different manuscript, absolutely. We have signed several authors on the second or third manuscript they submitted to the agency. We freely pass along submissions if we feel they are more appropriate for another agent, however, so there is no need to query multiple agents at Bradford Lit.
Certainly you are allowed to re-query provided there have been SIGNIFICANT, substantive changes made. Please be advised, though, that we reserve the right to decline to request the re-query.
It depends on the manuscript and whether we think it needs revision in order to make the sale. Obviously our goal is to make sure the manuscript is in the best possible shape before we send it off to publishers…sometimes that means doing a final polish, sometimes that means something a little bit more intensive re: edits. Even though we are happy to work on editorial with our clients, we strongly suggest that any work you submit to us be in the absolute best, polished condition that you can make it. No work should be submitted to Bradford Literary Agency with the expectation of getting revisions.
An R & R means Revise and Resubmit. When we read a ms that we feel especially compelled by, but which we feel might need quite a bit more work, we may suggest that the author revise the material and resubmit it to us. In this case, we may make some very specific suggestions for revisions, which you may or may not decide to do. If you have ever received an R&R letter from any agent (or editor) this is our best advice: Carefully consider the suggestions, but only make the changes that YOU feel will make the manuscript better. Your manuscript should remain YOUR work and not be an agent’s version of your work. When we send an R&R letter, we are merely making suggestions and leaving the door open for you. Suggestions are not demands and you should not make a change that destroys your vision of your work. It should be noted that if an agent (or editor) takes the time to make these kind of specific suggestions and invites you to resubmit, it means they saw something in the material they really liked and they would genuinely like to see the resubmission.